Creating the PIP

Learn how to formally write up a PIP document.

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Assuming you’ve gotten agreement from others on the content, it’s time to actually write the PIP. Since documentation is a key part of the process, you’ll need to begin the process by formally writing it. This is most easily explained with an example.

The following sidebars contain the content of an example PIP for a hypothetical employee called Stephen. His performance has been declining over time, which has been demonstrated by his unexplained absences from work and failure to complete work at the speed and standard expected from someone in a senior position.


Let’s look at how the PIP could begin. This example assumes that you have formally gathered feedback from the whole team about them first.

Example: PIP introduction

This is to inform you that you are being placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). The PIP is to define our areas of concern with your performance, to reiterate our expectations, and to allow you the opportunity to improve and meet expectations. What follows is a description of the situation.

During the last six months, the team has become concerned about your performance. Despite your seniority, you have consistently demonstrated behavior that has not been to standard, and the quality of your work has also suffered. The evidence for this is as follows:

  • A recent, unexplained, four-day absence from work in January without notifying your manager or the team
  • Missing at least three weekly team meetings by not getting to the office on time, despite being offered the option of dialing in remotely
  • Being unresponsive to essential team communication for over twenty-four hours while you work from home
  • Being unable to meet your sprint commitments over 50% of the time during the period, often due to unexplained absences

Your teammates have repeatedly raised this behavior as it has been affecting their ability to get their work done on time. The purpose of the PIP is to enable you to begin to perform at the level expected by the company and those in this team, ensuring that you work in a professional, transparent, and collaborative manner.

As you can see, it outlines:

  • That the employee is being placed on a PIP
  • Why this is the case, with specific, evidenced examples
  • What the desired outcome of the PIP is, with the focus being on the fact that it can be used as an opportunity to improve


Let’s continue looking at the example PIP. We’ll continue with the objectives that Stephen has to meet to pass it.

Example: PIP objectives

These are the objectives that we expect you to achieve to complete the PIP. Each of them is coupled with a timeframe in which they should be achieved.

  • Complete work that you have estimated on time, letting the team know at the earliest opportunity if that isn’t possible. (three months)
  • Agree on a line of communication for days in which you work remotely where you will be responsive within working hours. Be responsive via this method in times of need. (three months)
  • Be on time for all weekly team meetings. (three months)
  • Inform the team of any booked vacation days and ensure that work has been handed over before you leave. (three months)
  • Inform your manager before 10:00 a.m. on any days that you need to take off due to sickness or other reasons. (three months)

You will be on this PIP for three months, ending on September 4. We will discuss your performance against these objectives weekly. I will also be soliciting peer feedback from the team during this time.

If you are unable to meet the objectives outlined in this plan and improvement is not possible, we will discuss further actions that, when reasonable, may extend the PIP. Otherwise, your contract at the company may be terminated.

We hope that we can achieve these goals together, and we are always available to help and discuss any concerns that you may have.

The objectives should be measurable with evidence and achievable, assuming that the employee is serious about passing the PIP. Where possible, use exact times, days, and actions within the descriptions.

At the end of the document should be blank spaces for the following, which will be completed after you have a meeting about it. This space will contain a write-up of:

  • Any training or additional support you agree upon through the duration of the PIP

  • Any further clarification of the objectives (if necessary): For example, there may be some additional specificity around what work being completed “on time” means, such as particular deadlines or, perhaps, estimates of the rough number of days to complete a number of story points

Additionally, you’ll both need to sign it.

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